Culture and Civilization from Western Viewpoint

Posted by Abdulbaqi on Wed 18 May 2016

"Culture" and "Civilization" are terms used by Europeans after their colonial subjection of other nations. Particularly, after the French Revolution, the Europeans developed a new world view abhorring anything religious and revering materialistic approach.

With such a world view any nation falling short in this scale were branded terms like un-civilized, un-cultural and barbaric. Muslims were a clear victim of this European dichotomy. Given their military power and charmed by materialistic inventions, many Muslims felt inferior and resorted to apologetic rhetoric.

On July 1, 1798 Napoleon first landed in Egypt and took the natural responsibility of a Frenchman to civilize the un-civilized barbaric Arabs! The famous historian al-Jabarti -although thrilled by scientific and material advancement of the French- never failed to notice the moral degradation and 'un-civilized' culture of French people. Here is what he said.

Their women do not cover themselves and have no modesty; they do not care whether they uncover their private parts. Whenever a Frenchman has to perform an act of nature he does so wherever he happens to be, even in full view of people, and he goes away as he is, without washing his private parts after defecation. If he is a man of taste and refinement he wipes himself with whatever he finds, even with a paper with writing on it, otherwise he remains as he is. They have intercourse with any woman who pleases them and vice versa. Sometimes one of their women goes into a barber's shop, and invites him to shave her pubic hair. If he wishes he can take his fee in kind.

Today, is not very different than 1798. Muslims must not feel inferiority while the Quran is amidst them. Islam is the sole source of our pride, heritage and civilization. Early Muslims benefited from whatever science and technology existed from Greek and other societies while adhering to the unique Muslim identity and ideology dictated by the Quran. The result was this multi-faceted spiritual as well as scientific and cultural civilization Islam gifted to the mankind during the golden age of Islam.

The prescription of today's Muslims is the same: we need to take whatever advancement the West provides in science and technology without falling in the trap of selling our most valuable asset of Islamic tenants and teachings of the Quran.

How truly Allah has described the West in the Chapter that was given the interesting name of "Romans" [30:6]

They know only some appearance of the life of the world, and are heedless of the Hereafter.

tags: culture

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